World of Wonder

Meet WOW Instructor, Dave Raffel

Dave Raffel with WOW KidsWhen Dave Raffel (in blue shirt, left) teaches in Bradley’s World of Wonder (WOW) summer camp for gifted and talented youth, he is pushing the boundaries for his students – and himself.

“I want to make sure I make [the students’] experience in my classroom the best possible one they can have.”

Raffel, an 8-year veteran of the WOW program, is one of 15 teachers who annually join the staff of the World of Wonder.

“I’m always amazed to meet the other teachers and learn from them. I get to work with the best of the best,” says Raffel.

Raffel has taught a variety of WOW classes – writing, math, theatre, history – and with each experience, he is reminded that gifted kids don’t usually have the same opportunities to improve academically as their athletically talented counterparts.

“A good athlete can go somewhere in the summer to get better, but there are not opportunities [for gifted kids] to explore and do things in areas they excel in,” explains Raffel. “In Central Illinois there is no better place [for them] to go. World of Wonder is the best.”

Dave agrees that being an instructor for WOW has made him a better teacher during the rest of the school year. “I truly believe all kids are gifted, and our job as teachers is to find that.”

Sometimes this means you have to be open to working with children who may be smarter than you, says Raffel.

Dave Raffel with WOW Kids

“You have to be comfortable in your skin as a teacher, because you’re going to run into students who know a lot more about a topic than you…A good teacher finds ways to push [students’] learning…to help them learn on their own – more facilitating than dispensing knowledge.”

Still, even a conscientious teacher like Raffel can have self-doubts. “I’m always thinking, ‘what could I have done better for those students?’ But then I come back the next day, and I hear kids talking about what I was doing in class or what they were learning, and I realize I AM reaching these kids.”

“I see them grow intellectually and socially as people and feel ‘maybe I’ve had a hand in that.’ ”

Dave Raffel, and 14 like-minded teachers, will join World of Wonder this summer at Bradley University. A one week program for gifted and talented youth, WOW meets twice: June 18 – 22 and August 6 – 10.

Your child won’t want to miss it!


Dave Raffel, a behavior intervention specialist in Germantown Hills School District 69, was recently promoted to be the district’s Junior High Principal.